about holding down the Q key and watching a mechanical blade slide out of your arm, to then disembowel whatever fool happened to be standing in front of you. Deus Ex HR is riddled with such satisfactions, and finding them for yourself is both engaging and rewarding. The pit into which DE:HR repeatedly falls is one of practicality; Namely, which is the fastest way to achieve my goals - as oppose to which is the most entertaining.
As a narrative example, let's consider the circumstances which led Sweep into the local virtual police station. Instead of skulking around looking for ventilation points, rooftop access, or invisibling (that's now a word) my way into the building, I walked up to the front desk and engaged the gentleman behind it in conversation. I had directed no praxis points to "Speech" and made no attempt at any Jedi mind tricks. In fact, the conversation seemed to take care of itself, despite prompting me to get involved on several occasions. I had no idea what the guy was talking about, so it didn't seem to make any difference what I said to him. The nametag in the chair seemed to be spluttering about something traumatic which had happened when he and whatever-my-dude-is-called were in a SWAT unit together. Without paying too much attention to what he was saying, I absently clicked my way through the sloppy banter.
Suddenly I found myself with permission to roam the halls of the police station as I saw fit.
"I'll tell the guys to let you through" sulks the cop, and away I skipped. I had somehow unlocked complete freedom to the entire building, where I could loot as many guns and pocket secretaries as I could carry. Meanwhile everyone on the force seemed to have gone temporarily blind. Maybe they just didn't care that a half-robot cyborg non-cop was taking their shotguns? They probably aren't being paid enough to care. Story of their meaningless virtual lives.
The most frustrating part of this entire adventure was that, once inside, I found a myriad of ventilation pipes and secret passageways, shortcuts and security puzzles which would have been fantastically fun to traverse incognito. I felt cheated, as though the accidental ease of fobbing off the receptionist with some goofy dialogue had somehow deprived me of a large chunk of gameplay. I might as well have opened up the console and activated god mode, for all the resistance that part of the campaign consequently offered.
This is, I feel, I pretty good example of my beef with Deus Ex.
I'm not blind to it's charm, nor obscured to it's obvious merits - it's narrative structure and freeform gameplay are admirable - but those choices remain so transparently linear that I find myself almost wishing for a more focussed and polished central set of tasks. On several occasions I was spotted halfway through a a sneak attempt and, resorting to the tried and tested plan B, simply pulled out my gun and blasted the room to smithereens. Not only was this easier and faster, it also meant I had the freedom to then walk around unhindered and explore the virtual landscape to it's full potential. It seems almost wasteful to bypass these elaborate cyberpunk stealth playgrounds, but if shotgunning this room full of criminals is an easier way to get from A to B then that's what I'm going to do. For all it's apparent choice, the story seems to continue regardless, making my gameplay decisions feel meaningless.
Maybe it's just me and my obnoxious lack of patience. Deus Ex is a solid game, but it's apparently not the game I want to be playing. Or maybe it is, and I'm just doing it wrong. Either way, I'm going to continue doing it, wrong or otherwise.
In 30 minutes (11pm GMT) we will be playing Gears of War 2 wingman on Xbox Live. It will be a private, intimate, invite only game for Giant Bomb people who like chainsawing each other in half.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED
please send me a friend request:
We have been running these events every night for the past few days and they are good clean fun. Well.... they are good fun, at least. If you want to build up some hype for Gears 3, this is a great way to do it.
A slur of Gears Of War 3 information got dumped onto the internet today as, with only one month until release, EPIC is beginning to slowly ramp up the hype. For me, that hype was maxxed out quite some time ago, so this new footage was fantastic to watch. I'm really pleased that the game is taking more time to flesh out the backstory of some of the characters. You can see the footage here:
However between Gears 2 and Gears 3, a lot of stuff happens. Two whole books worth of stuff, in fact. I read those books, the most recent of which was only released two weeks ago, and I have that knowledge. I wouldn't recommend you read them unless you love the Gears Universe stupid amounts, but they are great for general backstory and go into a lot of detail about Marcus and Dom growing up, for example. Anyways, I appreciate most of you aren't going to read those books, so for anyone who is interested, here's the important stuff:
If you plan on reading this book then SPOILERS.
EDIT: To clarify, all this information is taken from the official Gears Of War books by Karen Traviss. I did not illegally download the game -____-
As Jeff mentioned in the video, the COG has been disbanded. After Jacinto was sunk the COG island-hopped until they landed on Vectes, an old naval base. Vectes contained two settlements, civilian and stranded towns that, due to a deep sea trench, had never seen a locust before. The COG quickly took care of the stranded problem and integrated into the town of Pelruan - those of you might remember it as "Old Town" from the Gears 3 Beta - where they prospered for a short while, assuming that the locust had been defeated and and straglers couldn't tunnel beneath the abyssal-trench. However the lambent eventually turn up in the form of several lambent Leviathans (That Giant underwater Boss from Gears 2) and spray polyps everywhere. Polyps are the smallest form of lambent, effectively replacing tickers in Gears 3. You can see them scuttling about in the new footage.
Pretty soon ships start disappearing and "stalks" start cropping up all over the island. These stalks, as shown in the video, drop various lambent dudes everywhere. They also kill all surrounding wildlife. As they start spreading across the island, the COG realise they can't hope to defend themselves. Chairman Prescott calls a vote and despite only 25% of the remaining population wanting to leave, orders the evacuation of Vectes. Hoffman tells him to go fuck himself and steals an encrypted data disk from Prescott's desk. Prescott refuses to tell him what's on it, and denies any involvement in the creation of the lambent, despite Hoffman accusing him of keeping information withheld. You may remember the sires in during Gears 2 as the cause of this. After Hoffman takes control of the COG, Prescott leaves with his two private protection Gears, and a stack of lambent corpse samples. Hoffman orders the last remaining navy submarine to follow Prescott's boat but despite keeping a close eye on it, Prescott disappears and the boat is found floating empty in a patch of sea.
With Vectes slowly being corrupted by stalks, the COG disbands. Hoffman takes the largest amount of civilians and the most vulnerable members of the group (the untrained population of Pelruan) to Anvil Gate, a mountain-top fort which he defended during the Pendulum wars, earning him an Embry Star. The fort is considered impenetrable and has a working hydro-electric power supply. However those of you who remember the Gears 3 demo at E3 earlier this year will remember that level is called "Anvil Gate" and it was getting pretty badly fucked up. Dizzy and Bernie Mataki (who is now Hoffman's girlfriend) also go with him, as well as a platoon of Gears led by Sargent Rossi.
Delta Squad remain with the Navy as the roaming strike force, to be flown out to any of the new settlements that need help. The navy is led by Quentin Michaelson, though Delta Squad is (I assume) being led by Anya as she holds the highest rank as Lieutenant. Delta consists of: Marcus, Dom, Baird, Cole, Anya, Sam, Jace, Carmine.
Here's some basic info that you may or may not find interesting:
Marcus and Anya are a thing.
Dom and Sam are almost a thing.
But despite Sam's advances, Dom refuses to get close to anyone ever again, because he's all emo now. As Jeff mentioned, these guys are on their last legs. Dom has decided that the only reason he is staying alive is to protect Marcus, as he has nothing else worth living for.
Jack, the robot, is fucked.
All the little robot things are broken except for Jack, which Baird is trying to fix. In the fourth book (yes, there are 4 fucking Gears books) Baird mentions that he's trying to figure out how the cloaking device works and see if he can make it work on anything that isn't a robot. As the last remaining smart-person in the COG, Baird is routinely tasked with fixing/operating complicated machinery, and as mentioned in the new video, Jack is broken. No more Jack :(
The COG have no fuel or supplies.
When the stalks started tearing up Vectes the farmland was slowly killed. The remaining cattle, sheep, pigs, were either taken aboard the ships or hacked up and put on ice - though there weren't many of them so I guess they worked through that stuff pretty quick.
Oh yeah, Clayton Carmine may have an obsession with Bacon.
In the book he is seen standing outside a farm and talking to the pigs, telling them they are going to be bacon soon. And then in the new video when the Stranded guy offers them bacon he goes "mmm, bacon" - so this might be a recurring thing. Which would be awesome.
When Hoffman arrives at Anvil Gate, a bunch of Pesengas show up.
Pesengas are COG troops and are basically ninja mercenaries. I would love them to be in Gears 3 - that would be amazing. They fight with giant swords (www.GiantSwords.com - it's a website, about... swords?) instead of guns, can move silently, and are generally badass. They are all members of a hill tribe from the mountains up by Anvil Gate and signed up to fight for money during the Pendulum Wars, not any political reason. The grandson of a Pesenga who fought with Hoffman duing the Pendulum Wars offers, with his family, to help Hoffman defend Anvil Gate from the Lambent. Padrick Salton also shows up, another sniper from the pendulum wars who was in the same squad as Marcus and Carlos (Dom's brother) during the Pendulum Wars.
Pressing the Left Stick to put a target on enemies.
As Jeff mentions, this isn't especially useful when playing solo, but when you are in a multiplayer match and trying to show your team-mates where enemies are, this is really useful. This is probably more of a co-op tool than an effective way of getting your AI buddies to target certain enemies.
"Who?" - yeah, you can't be blamed for not knowing who these guys are. Gorasnaya are a bunch of guys who showed up out of nowhere and joined the COG on Vectes, but were actually their enemies during the Pendulum Wars. There are still many remaining grudges but by the end of the book they are all chummy again. When the COG disbands they return to their home island, so I don't know how much play they will get in the third game. I tend to think of these guys as the Russians of the COG universe.
The "stranded" model is the one the COG chose to adapt, opting for lots of small settlements instead of one large group. As the COG has finally been disbanded the stranded are no longer seen as full enemies, rather as another stranded group themselves - so as shown in the video, there are frequent trade negotiations with the other stranded groups.
That's all I can think of off the top of my head, though if you have any questions then I shall do my best to answer them. Hopefully that fills in the blanks left by Jeff during the preview.
Being a member of such a... vibrant online community such as this
it's a given that the exposure we have to the inner working of the industry will be rather more enlightened than that of our casual, knuckle-dragging friends. We are "in the loop". In fact, we are so far "in the loop" that we have set up a small shelter, carved a set of rudimentary inner-loop tools out of loopish looking driftwood, and are making great progress in our seduction of the natives. In the loop.
We are privy to knowledge that wont hit casual ears for many weeks, and while this feeds whatever information addiction we might currently be cultivating, it does come at a cost.
Firstly, we are viewing much of this information as a third or even fourth audience. Giant Bomb is our vehicle and Jeff, Ryan, Vinny, Patrick and Brad are taking it in turns to drive us around. The route they take can dramatically alter our perception. So how heavily do we rely on them for cultural reference, and is such heavy dependence a good or bad thing?
An excellent example of this would be Bastion. We have been lucky enough to witness the evolution of that entire project through a series of videos produced by friend of the site and all-round cosmonaut Greg Kasavin, but then presented to us through the staff here at Giant Bomb. It's hard not to develop a sense of endearment to a project which we have seen take it's first bumbling steps and ultimately blossom into a full commercial videogame, all the while being proffered by the support of Giant Bomb. The fact that they declined an official review is, I feel, testament to their own understanding of this process. No official review is necessary because in their extensive coverage of it's development, Giant Bomb has already sold us the game.
So how can one be objective in an assessment of Bastion as a result?
Or more importantly, does that question even matter? The primary purpose of a game is to entertain, and if it does so then it is a success. One could argue the process of reaching that finality is secondary. If you watched Building the Bastion, and you enjoyed it, and you find yourself with a positive predisposition towards it as a result, that is no bad thing.
It's a pretty lazy view to take, but having followed Jeff and the gang for so long, it's hard not to just assume they know what they are talking about and leave it at that. I find myself less and less opting to experience a game for myself and more often just borrowing the opinions of a writer here at Giant Bomb. In retrospective truth, that should concern me a great deal. Fortunately, it doesn't. My mind remains open, my opinions receptive. I shall continue to make up my own damn mind when I feel the need.
Which is why I'm going to go and buy Catherine when it's released here in the UK, despite the mediocre review it got on this site. Because I am not a zombie. Not yet, anyway...
No time for a full blog but a quick update: I clicked some link that was posted in this thread and it took me to the EA site. I input my password and BOOM, Battlefield 3 Alpha code. I wasn't even trying.
My account name on Origins is "sexualinfection" so add me if you want to murder some robot people.
Alright, ALRIGHT, I'm writing a blog, shaddap already!
Some shit has happened since I last blogged about videogames.
I graduated from university for one thing. I spent the last couple of weeks slowly trying to transition my life back to some factor of normality, a mental progression that ran parallel to my rapidly decreasing funds. I then spent a week scrubbing around on Turntable.FM where my eclectic audio preferences were met with a mixed hail of praise and, most often, confusion. I was rewarded with a selection of follows, DJ points and even a boot from the Gary Whitta himself.
I don't know what stage turntable is currently at, though when I had access to it (being from the UK that is, unfortunately, no longer the case due to licencing issues) it was a fairly small userbase, only allowing friend-of-a-friend access to the fortunate few - I don't know to what extent the site has become quantified amongst a common audience, though I shall attempt to explain why it sucked away a handful of days from my life. At it's core, turntable.fm is a chat room where, at all times, music is playing. That music is chosen by one of several DJ's who nominate themselves on a first-come first serve basis. The playlist moves through the DJ's consecutively, playing whatever song they have at the top of their playlist. The audience can either "Lame" or "Awesome" the current track, a culmination of the former resulting in the track being skipped, whilst "Awesome's" get you DJ points which you can flaunt in front of the masses, letting everyone know just how good your grooves are. Perhaps the best feature is the ability to easily add the current song to a playlist on either turntable, last.fm, spotify, or buy it on iTunes. The result was that many people, myself included, left turntable.fm idle in the background of our computers, adding music as and when it became apparent.
The resultant experience is highly entertaining. Many of the best rooms claim a "theme" that can be enforced by the moderators of the room and, if the atmosphere is right, DJ's working together to establish an audio fluency are rewarded for their efforts by the crowd. Picking the right song becomes increasingly challenging as the session goes on, but on more than one occasion I was witness to, and even took part in, virtual sets that were incredibly entertaining. Syncing up your song with that of the DJ prior to you can be fantastically complicated, but doing so successfully is wonderfully rewarding, especially when you introduce your audience to a song they have never heard before. Fuck achievement points, gaining a shallow respect from your fellow music enthusiasts is far more satisfying.
And remember, popularity leads to intimacy.
Apart from Turntable.fm I have spent my time pointedly not playing Trenched. Because of geography. What has geography ever done for us? Fuck geography.
There are a couple more blogs coming in the next few days. It's not like I have anything else to be doing right now. I have spent some time with LA Noire and The Witcher 2, both of which deserve some bloggage. Oh, and I saw Transformers 3.
I don't like it when people say "Transformers 3 was made by Michael Bay" as though that's some form of justification for its stupidity.
I don't know at what point we, as a society, decided to just accept that the man is a bad director and bypass that fact. I appreciate that accepting the low quality of the narrative may allow an increased sense of enjoyment for explosions and robots and whatnot, but with Transformers 3 I can't help but feel that Michael Bay is no longer meeting us halfway. The film is a mess. Call me a snob if you want, but if one were to disengage all mental activity as frequently as Michael Bay requests, one might find themselves with severe neurological damage. Or a brain tumour.
Yesterday some of you may remember me posting this:
I should probably explain. At the end of every academic year there's a huge summer festival-esque event at Bournemouth University where the Student Union sets up a load of tents full of live music and everybody dresses up in costumes and get's impressively drunk. The atmosphere is always fantastic, everyone has a great time, everyone looks awesome in their costumes. There is a funfair with a ferris wheel and games and stuff, as well as all different kinds of music, alcohol, the lot.
It was last night.
I'm still feeling pretty shaky from the sheer volume of vodka which I consumed but people just started putting up photographs and I wanted to share this with you all:
That's me on the left, and my friend Rob dressed as Jake the dog. I am in a bajillion random photos from people (drunk girls) running up and asking to pose in photos with them. Spending time making a decent costume is worth it. Trust me.
The only problem was trying to go for a piss. I had to take everything off, and I mean everything. Have you ever tried to unzip a morphsuit with lobster claws? It's not easy. Oh, and I couldn't see shit, especially after it got dark.
Anyways, that was my last official university... thing. I'm not completely free. Time to find a job, I guess :D
Last Friday I graduated from university. I would have liked to play that off as something other than a big deal, but I am unable to do so. It is a big deal. For the first time in my life, I don't know what happens next. I'm not going to lie to you here... I'm pretty fucking terrified.
The last week has been... well... it's been fast. I like to think there's a difference between drinking and celebrating, but those two lines draw dangerously close as each night progresses. And then E3 started, and then the alcohol stopped being an excuse and started being a result. This is what happens when you take an extremely exhausted, malnourished, lost human being and expose them to an overwhelmingly crippling wealth of information: Simply put, after the first day of E3 I pretty much mentally surrendered. I took note of events but my ability to care was significantly hindered by both my psychological and physical state. I spent the last seventy two hours on autopilot, sub-consciously water-skiing; terrified that if I stopped moving I would sink and drown.
I'm leaving university, where I have lived for 3 years, and I might never come back. I'm leaving all my friends and I might never see them again. I have no money, no job, nowhere to live except back with my parents. These are problems to which solutions must be found. For the first time in a long time, shit is happening. Things of relatively great importance. E3... well... E3 can wait.
It's times like these that you have to stop and look at what you are doing, what you have done, and what you are going to do. Fresh perspective is hard to find, and being granted such perspective is an opportunity, a privilege, that cannot be wasted. So right now I'm looking at myself and I'm trying to figure out if I like what I see.